Edie Windsor to attend St. Pete Gala

St. Petersburg – Representatives of Equality Florida’s upcoming Greater St. Petersburg Area Gala have let it slip that their guest speaker will be Edith Windsor this year.

While the organization has yet to officially announce her as a speaker, several comments on the event’s Facebook page reference her appearance and attendees have already posted that they “look forward” to meeting her at the May 3 gala.

Windsor is the force behind the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Supreme Court ruled DOMA’s Section 3 unconstitutional last June, paving the way for marriage equality movements across the country. Windsor was the plaintiff in the case, which challenged taxes levied on her after the death of her wife, Thea Spyer, in 2009. The women were legally married in Ontario, Canada, in 2007, and had been a couple for more than four decades. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was prevented from doing so by section 3 of DOMA. That meant Windsor was required to pay more than $360,000 in estate taxes.

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court released its 5-4 decision to overturn the section of the law banning recognition of same-sex spouses on a federal level. Her influence was so strong that she made the list for Time’s Person of the Year in 2013. She was third behind Pope Francis, who appeared on the magazine’s cover, and Edward Snowden.

“I look forward to continuing to fight for equal rights and educate the public about our lives alongside my gay brothers and sisters and our allies,” Windsor told Time. “Even without taking the ‘Person of the Year’ even being in the top 5 is an extraordinary year that has been historic for all of us and truly spectacular for me. Thea would be thrilled, proud and so happy to see what we have all accomplished together.”

But there’s more to the guest of honor than her historic 2013 lawsuit and her high rank on Time’s annual year-end list.

According to her website, Windsor served on the Board of Directors of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) from 1986-1988 and again from 2005-2007. She was a founding member of the Improv acting group, Old Queers Acting Up, whose rallying cry was, “Out of the closet, onto the stage.”

For several years the group performed skits around ageism, racism, homophobia and other oppressions.

The annual Gala will be held at the Mahaffey Theatre this year in downtown St. Petersburg. Tickets are $125 and are available at EQFL.org. Moneys raised help fund the organization’s mission to end LGBT discrimination in the state.

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